Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
31 Jul

The 10 Dumbest Drugs Ever Invented

When Big Pharma and the health care system get together to “treat” our health issues, it’s like a Dumb and Dumber convention. (It’s a treat, all right.) Allow us to present the ten stupidest drugs, ever. Well, at least the ten stupidest drugs, today.

Ah, the golden elixir. Drugs: magically delicious!

Magically Delicious!

10. Avandia

Because why eat right and exercise when you can consume a known toxin (sugar) and then just take a drug for it that will give you a heart attack? Doesn’t that sound like more fun? Go Pharma, it’s your birthday!

The Trouble with Avandia

…But That’s Not Gonna Stop the FDA

9. Alli

Somehow, a drug that carries the warning to wear dark clothing in the unfortunate event of, well, “incidents” just doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence – but maybe we’re just being insecure. The oily spotting and lack of effectiveness are awesome, but seriously, who wants to wear black in summer?

Top 10 Alli Leaks, Oops, Links

8. Zetia

This is a special statin. S-p-e-c-i-a-l. The ad for Zetia proudly explains how Zetia does – wait for it – not work. You see, most statins “work” (and that’s being generous) in the liver, but Zetia absorbs cholesterol from the food you eat. Zetia just works differently: unlike some statins, Zetia has not been shown to prevent heart disease or heart attacks. Well, that’s a comfort!

Zetia: a Different Way to Help Fight Cholesterol!

7. BiDil

You know BiDil: the racist decades-old drug that is less effective than every other heart disease treatment. Obviously, it makes sense to market this golden oldie to African Americans on the basis of fun things like zero scientific evidence! Besides, other medicines work better on everyone (including African Americans). But whatever. It’s so encouraging to know that the federal government now has legal precedent to make medical rulings based upon race. It just makes sense, really. Think about it: giraffes and leopards belong together because they’re spotted. Tigers and zebras are both stripey. Treating humans based upon external appearance is just nature’s way. Hooray for segregation!

Big Pharma’s Benevolent Racism

6. Yaz

Now Yaz has a really cool commercial, and that’s what counts. Oh, you’ve seen it. A glamorous gaggle is hittin’ the club scene, gettin’ some party on, complete with fruity, hip cosmopolitans in every hand. Naturally, the ladies are discussing the hot new birth control pill: Yaz! After recounting recent medical studies and listing all the side effects alphabetically, exactly like a million other women in clubs all across America on any given night, we learn that one of these young lovelies is a real live doctor! With a capital M.D.! A female doctor? How edgy and unusual! Yaz is cool, not just because the actress in the commercial is a “doctor”, but because it’s way more dangerous than other birth control pills. Best of all, Yaz understands that women are just crazy (something men have known all along). Yaz includes a special hormone to help you be less crazy. Isn’t that thoughtful? Poor women, they just need all the help they can get. (Runner up: Serafem. Because only women are affected by hormones, and the more we can numb the little loons, the better!)

Oh, That Yaz!

5. Cox-2’s

It’s just too easy with this one. (Unlike exercise.)

Understand the risks“…of being a sloth.

4. The Pecker Pills (Levitra/Viagra/Cialis)

Hey, not being able to get it up just might be God’s (or Charles’) way of reminding you that you shouldn’t have a shot at passing your genes along so some other poor bastard can share your fate. These are drugs of de-evolution. They reward genetic inferiority. Oh, were you expecting this post to be politically correct?

Viagra Facts

Levitra Facts

Don’t Forget About Cialis!

3. RLS Treatments

Because inventing diseases is fun! Have you heard about PDA Separation Anxiety? Or trafficitis? You may want to consider getting checked for Roll Discomfort Syndrome, as well.

2. GERD treatments: the New Way to Spell GLUTTONY

Gerd your loins for these little purple pills. When Prilosec didn’t work so well, they just renamed it Nexium and that did the trick! Because why exercise and eat vegetables when you can live on free-radical infested, acidic deep fried garbage? Just pop a pill and you can still enjoy all the chili cheese fries and Coca-Cola you’ve always adored! Best of all, this won’t get in the way of your best-laid plans for obesity.

1. Reader survey: what’s the worst drug, ever?

Tell us what you think!

Further reading:

Tuesday 10 Posts

Most Popular Posts

Note: this post is pure parody, so please do remember that fun is still allowed even in these days of regulation. If you think today’s been a riot, just wait until tomorrow when Mark posts his eagerly anticipated, guaranteed-to-ruffle-someone’s-feathers Health Care Proposal.

Also on the burner for tomorrow: Mark’s famous daily salad finally debuts at MDA! We’ll share some great salad recipes and we’ll also be posting a helpful guide to summer safety for the whole family.

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

Subscribe to Mark’s Daily Apple feeds

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. RU-486.

    BillyHW wrote on July 31st, 2007
    • Regarding GERD..

      Been an issue for me since the age of 24 afer a miscarriage. I am now 32 and have been taking nexium/prevacid. In addition I have to take Zantac on occasion. So for 8 years I have been a slave to this medication. Other than chronic heartburn, I seem to be healthy. I cook from home and do not eat fast food, I am not overweight. I work out reguarly, do yoga and do not eat fast food ever. I have tried many natural remedies. I have been to a handful of gastrointeroligistds who just suggest I will have to be on these type of medications for the rest of my life. WTF? Why can’t anyone explain why I have the issue to begin with? I am over general medicine..

      Ster wrote on March 27th, 2010
      • having chronic heartburn can be caused by what you eat.Depending on your blood type,some foods are too acidic,type o’s do not do well with black pepper,most citrus,vinegar.finding out your blood type is an essential first step to empowering you to manage your health.

        tom wrote on February 4th, 2011
      • I’d suggest going to a Holistic doctor. They specialize in natural medicine, and while your first visit may seem a little kooky, they dedicate their practice to treating the whole iceburg–not just the tip of it.
        Plus, if you find a good one, you won’t be in anything for the long-term. Supplements, maybe. But they generally try really hard to kill the whole problem.

        Emily B wrote on December 15th, 2011
        • “ice-castle?” I do believe you meant iceberg not iceburg, bub.

          Tom wrote on April 26th, 2012
      • Read this series of articles (not mine, I just pass them on) and quit thinking you can eat “safe starches.” I swear, I want to beat every Paleo/Primal writer I see waxing eloquent about those empty calories, labeled “safe” for no other reason than they want to keep birdseed and glue in their diets.

        Dana wrote on June 26th, 2012
  2. Methylphenidate – Ritalin – when prescribed for children.

    Because do children really need something that will either turn them into stimulant junkies or depressed zombies and with the added bonus of “increased likelihood of drug abuse and addictions”? Don’t they have enough crap to deal with?

    “The adverse reactions (side effects) for Ritalin include nervousness, insomnia, joint pains, fever, anorexia, nausea, dizziness, palpitations, headache, dyskinesia, drowsiness, increased blood pressure and pulse, rapid heart rate, angina, cardiac arrhythmias, abdominal pain, actual psychosis. And there is a major warning in the Physician’s Desk Reference regarding drug dependency.”

    “One study examined the history of a group of adults who had used cocaine at least once, and found that those who as children had been medically diagnosed with hyperactivity and had received methylphenidate treatment for between one and ten years had a percentage of cocaine abuse twice that of either of two control groups…”

    – Day, Lorraine. “Preventing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and ADHD” (
    – Schenk, Susan and Davidson, Emily S.. Stimulant Preexposure Sensitizes Rats and Humans to the Rewarding Effects of Cocaine. NIDA Res Monogr. 1998 Mar;169:56-82
    – Wilens, T.E. (2004). “Impact of ADHD and its treatment on substance abuse in adults”. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2004;65 Suppl 3:38-45.
    – Wilens, T.E., Biederman, J. (2006). “Alcohol, drugs, and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder: a model for the study of addictions in youth”. J Psychopharmacol., 2006 Jul;20(4):580-8. Epub 2005 Sep 20.
    – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “More students abusing hyperactivity drugs” (

    Brian wrote on August 1st, 2007
  3. Too many doctors are prescribing too many anti-depressants/anti-anxiety drugs instead of doing their job and figuring out the cause! Nobody has a prozac defiency.

    I also have a bone to pick with synthroid.

    Crystal wrote on August 1st, 2007
    • test

      Graham wrote on September 2nd, 2010
  4. I think my favorite is Zetia. “Zetia does – wait for it – not work”. You almost have to admire the thought process of introducing a drug that doesn’t work. I’m pretty sure I could work for the pharma industry. I really think I could come up with the “NEXT BIG THING” … that doesn’t work, purposely doesn’t work.

    terry wrote on August 1st, 2007
  5. I was astonished, Terry, when I was flipping through a magazine and saw the Zetia ad. “So it doesn’t work? And you’re saying it can’t do anything? So the point is…?” Nuts.

    Mark wrote on August 1st, 2007
    • Hmmm, a drug that reduces absorption of dietary cholesterol, and it doesn’t prevent heart disease or risk of heart attack? Really? Funny that!

      Dinobabe wrote on January 18th, 2011
  6. Cheers, Brian!

    Whether or not ritalin is one of the worst drugs, it is certainly one of the most improperly prescribed. Speaking of ritalin/cocaine. My freshman year at college I had friends who used ritalin to cram for exams. By senior year these were the ones who were reigniting the cocaine craze.

    Okay, now I’ve got some beef with Viagra being on this list. You’re saying people who can’t get it up are just genetically inferior and shouldn’t have kids? Sort of like people with anemia should just freakin’ bleed to death before they have anemic kids? And cancer is God’s way of saying give up and die? Or maybe my friend who became a paraplegic after being hit by a car, has no right to have children (note: doctor’s were doubtful the viagra would work. It did, he now has a two year old son). And most importantly, old people shouldn’t be allowed to have sex.

    Viagra works. I would rank it as one of the 10 best. Tell me I’m wrong.

    McFly wrote on August 1st, 2007
  7. I can vouch for the ritalin/cocaine craze in college (not personally, mind you!).

    Sara wrote on August 1st, 2007
  8. I happen to love my Yaz for making me less crazy! But why is it more dangerous than other birth controls?

    elasticwaist wrote on August 1st, 2007
  9. Yaz can increase potassium levels substantially:

    Although I don’t think birth control really needs to be on this spoof list. I would prefer to see Enzyte and cellulite creams – all the supposed herbal “enhancement” drugs for men and women! 😉

    Sara wrote on August 1st, 2007
    • I am all for family planning but I would rather see women eat healthy (i.e., not starving, not junked out and not vegetarian–sorry, but no) and learn their bodily signals for fertility. Oh, and the guy can start wearing a condom. Going on the Pill coincided with my first major weight gain and while I wasn’t the picture of health before then, I think it was the beginning of the end of my body being anything like normal. I’d take it back if I could.

      Dana wrote on June 26th, 2012
  10. Rozerem, a.k.a Ramelteon

    Is a sedative, also called a hypnotic. Used to treat insomnia.

    Can cause severe allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop using if the following occur:
    1. Aggression, agitation, changes in behavior.
    2. Thoughts of hurting yourself.
    3. Hallucinations.
    4. Changes in menstrual periods, discharge from the nipples.

    Keep taking and talk to your doctor if;
    1. Day-time drowsiness, dizziness, hangover feeling.
    2. Depression.
    3. Headache.
    4. Nausea.
    5. Constipation.
    6. Unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth.
    7. Joint or muscle pain.

    Sleep tight!

    Oxybeles wrote on August 1st, 2007
    • I took Rozerem nightly for years. Now I take it once in a while if I am wired and have to get some sleep. I have tried all the folk remedies and none of them work for me.

      As for side effects, maybe a little sleepy the next day. Not nearly as sleepy as if I had been awake all night. I can’t imagine any of those other effects.

      Harry wrote on August 17th, 2010
  11. Let’s not forget Ambien. People who take it have eaten sticks of butter, packs of cigarettes, and driven for miles without even realizing it.

    Sara wrote on August 1st, 2007
    • You may never see this comment, but I’m going to write it anyway. I so TOTALLY vote for Ambien. This is the worst medication EVER. I took in once and woke up the next morning with a gash on my forehead & had no clue as to how it got there. I had vague memories of walking into the mantle in the living room. I flushed the rest of the bottle down the toilet immediately.

      paceyourself wrote on August 11th, 2011
      • Ambien may be bad for a whole lot of people, but it was a lifesaver for me. It is the only drug I’ve ever taken that worked exactly as it should, no side effects in me. (Weird, I know).

        I had a life-threatening condition in late pregnancy and an extreme case of another disease that prevented sleep (PuPPs, if you want to look it up).

        Ambien allowed me to sleep, and all of us here know the power of sleep. The sleep reduced anxiety and blood pressure, allowing me to safely deliver my baby naturally without complications.

        Karen wrote on August 16th, 2011
        • Yep, but you and I both know doctors don’t wait til a patient desperately needs these medications. I was put on an SSRI without anyone ever testing to see if I really did have a serotonin shortage. In fact I have yet to hear of anyone on these drugs who was tested. Irresponsibility at its finest.

          Dana wrote on June 26th, 2012
  12. People eat packs of cigarrettes?

    McFly wrote on August 1st, 2007
  13. I eat packs of cigarettes, sticks of butter, and drive for miles with out realizing it, and I don’t even take any medicine at all!

    Bradford wrote on August 1st, 2007
  14. Oxybeles-Don’t worry about the side effects from Rozerem. There are plenty of drugs to treat those. “Wink”.
    I like to sit in bed and watch Jay Leno. Has anyone else noticed that all the commericials are drug ads? So, every night we are told we have insomnia or need viagra. Yes, sweet dreams.

    Crystal wrote on August 1st, 2007
  15. If that’s the case, Bradford, maybe you should consider taking some.

    McFly wrote on August 1st, 2007
  16. Maybe people can’t sleep because they’re eating packs of cigarettes. This ambien sleep walking/driving thing amazes me. Out of desperation, I took ambien a couple years ago. No affect what so ever. No sleep, not even drowsy.

    Crystal wrote on August 1st, 2007
  17. #9…seeing warnings like “anal leakage”, no thanks!

    Deb wrote on August 1st, 2007
  18. Thanks for stopping by my blog.
    I am cracking up at your #4!!!

    Jill wrote on August 3rd, 2007
  19. No problem Jill – great stuff you have there.

    Mark wrote on August 3rd, 2007
  20. …….

    Alexa wrote on August 30th, 2007
  21. Honestly, I think you don’t really have a clue what you’re talking about. GERD is not caused by gluttony – indigestion might be, but GERD is different. And RLS is real. I’m not a fan of Alli, but it works, so what do I care? Ritalin works too – my nephew was suicidal before they put him on it. And no, he wasn’t poorly behaved, he was seriously suffering.

    Yaz is a low-estrogen OC. I really don’t see that problem there. Is it the advertising that’s bothering you? That I’ll agree with.

    ohyeahohyeah wrote on December 20th, 2007
    • alli has the same issues that every other drug or fake food targeting fat intake has: it interferes with dietary fat absorption and therefore the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and, by extension, minerals.

      If you want osteoporosis before you’re fifty, I guess alli “works.”

      GERD, nine times out of ten, is connected with bad diet (not necessarily gluttony) and INSUFFICIENT acid in the stomach, not too much. Unless you have a hiatial (sp?) hernia or an ulcer, try taking betaine HCL and cutting back on junk carbs and see what happens.

      Dana wrote on June 26th, 2012
  22. I know people who have suffered from RLS for decades. While it is true the advertisements tend to make people think they have RLS when they do not (and, of course, mislead people into thinking that the drug is the best treatment, which often is not the case), this is one case wherein the pharmaceutical company did not “invent” the disease. I worked at a rheumatology and pain clinic for many years also, and the suffering from this ailment was very real. GERD is not caused by gluttony; my mother suffers terribly from GERD, and she is no way “gluttonous.” I have a skinny, highly active nephew who has GERD — not a glutton. In fact, nobody I know with GERD overeats. =/

    I absolutely love the spirit of the list, and I got a good laugh out of it. No offense taken in any way, shape or form. I hate how pharmaceutical companies mislead us, seduce us with “easy” fixes, and invent diseases. But I just disagree with a few of these.

    raindropsinpdx wrote on December 31st, 2007
  23. Hangover pills, My guess would be that the dehydrogenase used in the pills may be acetaldehyde dehydrogenase. That might then help people who have too little of it. That’s REALLY giving this company the benefit of the doubt though.

    scott wrote on January 10th, 2008
  24. I am a very healthy, active 20-year-old, and I do take Nexium. I do exercise, and I eat vegetables. I take vitamins and don’t eat “deep fried garbage” or drink soda for that matter. I also avoid all the acidic foods known to aggravate GERD (even chili cheese fries). And at 120 pounds, I wouldn’t consider myself obese. All that, and I still have severe GERD. Hence: the Nexium. While a good portion of America may fall into the previously-described, less-than-healthy category, I don’t. So perhaps before suggesting that I’m a glutton who doesn’t need medication, one could first realize the Nexium that I take actually could have been developed for people like me.

    Al wrote on June 1st, 2008
    • I am relieved to read the Nexium comments. I suffer from horrible acid reflux and take Nexium to ease the pain. I exercise, am not an ounce overweight and have spent my life monitoring what I eat and drink: no alcohol, no fried foods, no processed foods, no water with meals, avoid sodium etc., etc. I’ve tried EVERYTHING: apple cider vinegar, aloe vera juice, digestive enzymes, probiotics, etc. NOTHING but Nexium has worked. I do not like taking a daily drug but, without it, I probably wouldn’t sleep at night. If ANYONE knows of an effective alternative, I will try it within the next 5 minutes. But, until I find an alternative that works, I just want to say that I live according to the rules and I STILL suffer from acid reflux. And, so far, Nexium has been my only comfort.

      Safia Harris wrote on May 29th, 2011
    • Have you bothered going in and getting checked for a hiatial hernia? Someone on my blog’s fan page remarked that of course she’s going to get acid reflux when her organs are being pushed up above her diaphragm.

      The other possibility is that you just aren’t making enough stomach acid. Bacterial overgrowth can cause that, also a diet too high in carbs (which can feed those bacteria too).

      Chris Kresser has a heartburn series on his blog that you might check out, just to make sure you have all your bases covered. Nobody wants to be on pharmaceuticals for the rest of their lives; I’m sure you’d rather spend your money on something else if you could.

      Trust me, pharmaceutical companies do not come up with these drugs to be benevolent. They’re trying to make a living just like anyone else. And if their living depends on you believing you need their drug, they will allow the status quo to stand rather than make suggestions to you to possibly solve your health issue without them. And doctors don’t have time to do all that research, I guess. So I’m not trying to say you’re wrong, I’m just trying to help you. Up to you whether you investigate further.

      Dana wrote on June 26th, 2012
  25. Clearly you have never tried Viagra.

    Gary Staton wrote on October 22nd, 2008
  26. #9…With “allies” like that, who needs enemas?

    Karin wrote on April 16th, 2009
  27. I suffer from GERD in the extreme. When I have an attack I will be in bed in agony for weeks. My stomach will bloat so that I look pregnant.
    I didnt want to take medication so I went on a very restrictive diet. I ate nothing acidic – no soft drink, no caffine, no chocolate, no tomato or chilli, not even much meat. I basically lived on lightly steamed vegetables with a little apple cider vinegar for taste (And becaue it apparently is healing for the stomach). I only drank water. I walked a lot. I lost weight on this diet and kept it up for nearly 9 months. I still had GERD attacks. I now take Nexium but only when I feel an attack coming on.

    What would you recommend I try instead? The doctors don’t seem to have any other ideas. What would cure me of my GERD?

    Bec wrote on September 18th, 2009
    • Best best approach for GERD is like you did avoiding combining protein/meat with starchy carbs, following primal diet helps.
      But often there is Helicobactor pylori bacterium in the stomach this causes low stomach acid levels and holes in the stomach lining. MASTIC GUM will kill the bacterium take last thing at night 1500mg for 6 weeks.
      HCL supplememtation maybe of use also. Proton pump inhibitors will tend only help symptoms. Go kind a chiro or someone who does AK (applied kinesiology) these techniques can be very good at sussing out what is going on.

      yols wrote on July 6th, 2010
      • P.s HCL I refer to is betaine HCL capsules 1-2 before meal, I would not advise grabbing HCL from the chemistry lab and sloshing it back! Apple cider vinegar I believe can be helpful.
        CHew chew chew food well ‘stomach got no teeth’
        And get of those antacids they make the situation worse even is help symptom.
        * Also emotional stress I often key, could try stuff like EFT(emotional freedom technique) to help heal emotional stuff.

        yols wrote on July 6th, 2010
  28. Thank you for great post!

    myncliaiday wrote on September 28th, 2009
  29. I’m just fed up with the medical industry as a whole! They don’t look for the source of a problem…they just mask it. Most health problems these days can be fixed with a proper diet. Antibiotics should not be used for every single sniffle, they weaken the immune system. Not to mention create antibiotic resistant strains.

    However, I do realize that there is a place for modern medicine. There are some illnesses that need to be treated with antibiotics every time. I agree with the person that people these days are too impatient and need that quick fix pill.

    My husband’s co-worker said to him one day “I just don’t know about those herbs. You don’t know what their effect is on you. I take some decongestants when I’m sick and I feel all better!” I just rolled my eyes when I heard this. I firmly believe in holistic healing and am an amateur herbalist, I use goldenseal, thyme, catnip, and a couple of other herbs. They don’t mask the symptom or force your body into a chemical reaction. Herbs support your body to help it heal itself.
    lol. Sorry for my rant…the medical industry is one of my pet peeves.

    Ris wrote on November 1st, 2009

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!

© 2016 Mark's Daily Apple

Subscribe to the Newsletter and Get a Free Copy
of Mark Sisson's Fitness eBook and more!